This Monday, January 14, 2007, my dad had the honor of giving the benediction at Bobby Jindal‘s inauguration. For those of you who care nothing about Louisiana, he is the recently-elected governor of our oft-maligned state.
Governor Jindal came to our church several months ago, and we saw him on several other occasions. They were looking for some NW Louisiana pastors to give the prayers at his inauguration, and Dad’s name came up during a staff meeting. He was pretty shocked to be asked over the phone about a week before the event, but naturally agreed.
So I headed off with dad, camera in hand, to our state capital in Baton Rouge. Dad was sitting next to the podium, so while he chatted it up with Tim Brando, Jim McCrery, and other “high-rollers,” I was looking for a place, any place, to get some decent shots.
My eye was continuously drawn to the scaffolding set up all along the perimeter of area around the capital steps. 1,700 chairs were set up, but thousands of other people lined up behind the shrubs, and I couldn’t see a thing.
Soooo…naturally I sneaked my way up into the media scaffolding. Originally I was pressed against the left side, with nothing to see (pictured below). Fearing that I was going to get kicked out when I noticed a security guard checking media credentials, I kept creeping to the right, where the television stations had set up shop.
A newscaster from central Louisiana noticed me first, and began talking to me. She was roughly 65-years-old, and quite talkative. She said she felt ragged, and I mentioned that she looked far less tired that Hillary Clinton, so she didn’t have anything to worry about. She responded by saying she thought Hillary looked “radiantly beautiful almost all of the time.”
I blinked. Several times.
I then spent the next two minutes or so hearing how much she adored Barack Obama. Those who know me are probably aware that I’m not exactly an Obama kind of guy. Or Clinton. Or Edwards. Or Dodd. Or Pepsi.
So I smiled and nodded and made pleasant conversation. She was, after all, extremely nice. I wasn’t going to let the fact that she leaned heavily liberal get in the way. Another newscaster from southern Louisiana joined in on the conversation, and he was also extremely nice. Eventually, the woman asked the question, “So who are you with?” In other words, she wanted to know what media source had employed me and managed to acquire press credentials for me to be where I was (I’m told it was extremely difficult to get a media pass).
I just smiled and said, “Well, my dad’s giving the benediction today.
“Oh, really?” She asked. Then she smiled and stated, “So, you’re not supposed to be here.”
“No, ma’am, not really. I just wanted to get some pictures, and I slipped by the guard.”
They told me they would help me from getting caught (and they did). When the guard walked by, they would stand close and talk to me like I was one of their crew members. This all took place from about 15 minutes before the inauguration began until Jindal was being sworn in (pictured).
I don’t remember everything that happened, but I do know that Sis. Mickey Mangun from the Pentecostas of Alexandria sang the national anthem and did an absolutely fantastic job (as usual). Tim Brando MCed the event, kids sang, an injured soldier led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance (incredible), people were sworn in, and Mitch Landrieu spoke. Finally, Governor Jindal stepped up to the podium and gave a very direct, intelligent, and Jindal-esque speech. And he did it all from memory.
After Jindal’s speech, Dad was brought in to give the final prayer of the ceremony. As he began, all the local television stations except ABC cut away to analysts who were being paid to tell viewers what Jindal said, why he said it, and what he really meant when he said it. Luckily, C-SPAN showed the entire thing, and from what I’m told, archived it. We’ll be getting the footage and putting it on YouTube soon.
Oh, and by the way, Dad’s prayer was absolutely the best of the three given that day. It consisted almost entirely of Scripture, pieced together in a way that put the other guys to shame. Of course, I’m a bit biased, but he still rocked the house.
After he was done, the inauguration ended and people scattered everywhere. I noticed mayor Ray Nagin (of Chocolate City fame) was enjoying the cameras afterwards, giving interviews and making sure the world knew what HE thought of it all (zzzzzzzz).
Then I looked up and saw another one of those Paulites. These people are everywhere, and they’re extremely annoying. Ron Paul should be proud.
Dad caught this picture with Mitch Landrieu before he took off. Landrieu played an integral role in saving the Lighthouse Ranch for Boys last year, and we’re grateful to him for his actions.
In all, it was a very good day and a great experience. I was extremely proud of my dad. On the way back, he laughed and said, “I’m just a country boy from De Leon, Texas. What did they have me up there for?”
We all see it, Dad…even if you’re too humble to do so yourself.